July 25th, 2008 at 6:03 am
It’s been a busy few days for moe., the progressive rock band from New York. After postponing an interview by a day so he could go paragliding and white water rafting in Wyoming, guitarist and vocalist Al Schnier chatted with the Northwest Arkansas Times about his love for the opening act, the Del McCoury Band, how moe. approaches small-venue shows and about the art of jamming.
The story that appeared in the Times can be read here.
But as it happens with many interviews, there was more information than a 700-word story could contain. Contained in this post are some of the other pertinent tidbits.
More from our chat with Al Schnier:
• The weekend prior to their appearance in Northwest Arkansas, the band played at the Mile High Music Festival, an event more than 50,000 people attended. Later today (July 25), the band will play at Dfest, an event in Tulsa that is expected to draw 60,000. The concert in Fayetteville, originally scheduled for the Arkansas Music Pavilion, will take place Saturday (July 26) at George’s Majestic Lounge, capacity less than 1,000.
Although the set list will change from night to night, Schnier said the band does not approach concerts at smaller clubs differently.
“The only thing we change is production,” Schnier said, noting the show at George’s won’t have the lighting and video capabilities of the larger shows.
“In either case, we need to accurately represent what we do,” he said. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the band, means to expect lengthy sets and lengthy songs. The blog saw them live once before (at Bonnaroo 2006), and would not be surprised at 20 minute guitar rambles or 3 hour sets.
• Schnier said he and his band don’t have a particular preference toward festivals, but because such events are so popular during this time of year, the bulk of his summer is spent playing at them. But Schnier confesses that attendance seems to be down at some of the venues.
“Even that model [festivals] stopped working … Music has been in such a weird decline in the past few years.”
• moe. is a jam band at heart, but tends to stick towards middle of the road, guitar-based rock. Schnier describes his band’s sound as “a wide variety of rock music, with a good deal of improvisation in it.”
• Schnier’s excitement for the Del McCoury Band was easy to detect during our phone conversation. The guitarist said he “can’t wait to play with them” and expects the two bands will join forces on several songs. He called the Del McCoury Band “inspiring and humbling,” as a group of talented musicians who are consummate professionals.
• Contrary to what many unfamiliar with jam music might think, Schnier insists the songs — and their melody — are more important than the jam sessions. He equates the ability to improvise during any given song to a home, using the following analogy: A house without a solid foundation will crumble, he argues, but one built strongly will support flourishes. It’s the same with a lengthy jam — it better have something solid to build from.
We’ll see you at the show. Until then, here is a video of moe. performing “Tambourine”: